Environmentally Friendly Fertilizer Shows Versatility In Rice Fields


   Independent consultant research shows that an environmentally friendly fertilizer could be a viable replacement for ammonium sulfate in rice – especially in fresh cut fields. That’s according to Arkansas research consultant Dr. Ronnie Helms.
   Last year he conducted large field trials comparing SymTRX to ammonium sulfate in RiceTec 745 hybrid rice. One set of trials compared the two fertilizers pre-plant, and the second set of trials compared them applied at the two to three-leaf stage. SymTRX is a 16-1-0-20S fertilizer product, which is somewhat comparable in nitrogen/sulfur to ammonium sulfate that is typically 21-0-0-24S. 
   I have conducted studies in rice research plots with SymTRX for three years for Anuvia Plant Nutrients,” says Helms, who research consults and farms south of Stuttgart. “There’s also work from Mississippi rice specialist Dr. Bobby Golden, Louisiana rice specialist Dr. Dustin Harrell and Dr. Nathan Slaton, University of Arkansas professor of soil fertility, and director of soil testing; they have seen positive results conducting rice fertility research using SymTRX in a program. Last year I also conducted some independent studies on my own. The only difference in management was we put out the SymTRX and compared it to ammonium sulfate.”
   Side by sides.
   On his farm in 2017, Helms conducted 13 side by side field comparisons between SymTRX and ammonium sulfate; the tests ranged from 10 acres to 100 acres comparisons. The SymTRX rate was 125 pounds per acre and the ammonium sulfate rate was 100 pounds per acre. “We used a higher rate of SymTRX than ammonium sulfate, which is a higher analysis,” he adds. “Even though the rates are different, they’re equivalent in nitrogen and sulfur. We wanted to compare apples to apples.”
   Four of the test fields showed no difference between the two products. Seven ranged from a 4- to 7-bushel increase for SymTRX compared to ammonium sulfate. “We weighed trucks; this is not estimates,” Helms adds. “Another field had a 12-bushel increase and another had a 14-bushel increase. The 14-bushel increase occurred on a field that was precision leveled last March and April and was planted late. On the zero grade field, we applied SymTRX on half and ammonium sulfate on half.
   “The 12-bushel increase occurred on a 15-acre field that we had problems with over the years. It had been cut a few years earlier and still had a lot of yield variability. We compared it with another 15-acre field that didn’t have problems. We got bigger positive results than what we anticipated.
   “With fresh cut fields you kind of resign yourself to a yield lag for several years as the soil health builds back up. Our tests indicate that’s not necessarily true. We put out chicken litter on it, and followed the recipe to manage precision leveled fields but the only variability in this one where we got a 14-bushel increase with SymTRX, compared to ammonium sulfate. Perhaps it’s an ingredient in managing these type fields to help bring them back up quicker to a higher production level.
   “When you’re dealing with soil fertility on fresh cut fields, it’s more of an art than a science. We know chicken litter is a big component in bringing back production levels, P and K, growing hybrid rice, and delaying flood. There are many things you can do, and SymTRX might have a place in that management scheme.”
   The untreated check that Helms used in his trials had urea applied at a sub-optimum rate – 150 pounds per acre. “We put out a sub-optimum urea rate to not overshadow the test results with a whole lot of nitrogen,” Helms explains.
   He conducted a rate study in both the pre-plant and two to three-leaf tests. “We used 100, 200 and 300-pound rates,” he says. “The sweet spot is 250 pounds, which showed a big yield difference.  However, the commercial use rate probably will be closer to 100 to 125 pounds. Even so, at the normal use rate, you have an 8-bushel increase over ammonium sulfate. This is one year’s data; we plan to duplicate the rice trials in 2018. Based on what we’ve seen, SymTRX might have a pre-plant place in other crops, including corn and cotton and wheat.”
   Helms says the Anuvia technology reclaims organic waste, thereby reducing the amount of organic waste being deposited in landfills.     This proprietary technology provides a sustainable way to transform organic waste – municipal, food or livestock – into high efficiency plant nutrients. “It’s sustainable agriculture,” he says. “You’re taking these waste products that normally end up in landfills and converting them into commercial fertilizer.” 
   SymTRX is a stable, slow-released fertilizer that reduces nutrient loss into the environment through leaching, surface water run off or volatilization.  Additionally, it improves soil health by putting organic matter back into the soil. “Environmentally, it’s a good fertilizer product that can help utilize organic waste materials that would otherwise be thrown away or used in less favorable ways,” Helms adds. ∆ 
   PATRICK R. SHEPARD: Contributing Writer

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